New collaboration set to revolutionise the way universities tackle mental health

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The UK’s universities are in the midst of a mental health crisis.

By U2B Staff 

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The UK’s universities are in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The number of students seeking mental health support rose by 50 percent between 2012 and 2017, whilst 95 students took their own lives in England and Wales during the academic year 2016 – 17. And only 17 percent of students surveyed in 2018 are very happy with their lives, down from 21 percent since 2016 alone.

A March survey found student mental health services are increasingly necessary as the modern stresses social media, finance and an uncertain future take their toll on Gen Z. That’s no surprise when you consider almost 90 percent of students experience stress, and 77 percent experience anxiety while at studying.

While universities are starting to invest funds in treatment and support services to fix a growing problem, there is less emphasis being paid to preventative measures.


Health tech company Fika hope to change that in their latest partnership with several UK universities.

Fika is a science-backed organisation on a mission to mainstream emotional fitness across the higher education. So far, the company has partnered with Manchester Metropolitan, Coventry University, University of Lincoln, and the University of Exeter.

Offering 5-minute “emotional workouts” on the handy app, Fika tries to raise awareness that emotional exercise is just as important as gym sessions for university students.

Based in London and launched in 2018, the startup was founded by entrepreneurs Nick Bennett and Gareth Fryer. The app-based “emotional fitness tool” combines cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with positive psychology to provide users with goal-focused objectives and five-minute exercises to improve mental wellbeing.

“The world is emotionally out of shape. We all know the benefits of regular physical exercise, but what about the benefits of regular emotional exercise?” Bennett told Business of Apps


“At Fika, we are on a mission with our university partners to prioritise proactive emotional support for students, and help them prepare better for their transition into university and beyond, into the world of work.”

Fika is a Swedish expression meaning to take a break, with friends or colleagues, to talk and take time for companionship. This ethos was the inspiration behind the app which, according to their website, is “designed to help students develop valuable soft skills such as confidence, resilience, adaptability and acceptance while improving focus, social connection and empathy.”

While the app has been rolled out to universities already, the Fika team never stops trying to improve on their product, working closely with academics and professionals from sports, science and leading UK universities to further develop Fika and “spread the habit of emotional exercise to the world.”